Every pedestrian death is infinitely tragic. There was a recent fatality in the Jumeriah Lakes Towers neighborhood that has again focussed our attention.
What is sadder still though, is hoping that by painting lines on roads, installing speed bumps, traffic lights etc, that inherently unqualified drivers will somehow begin to conform to normal road sharing habits.
It is not going to happen. It is NOT in their DNA.
They ought not to have been issued Licences in the first place, wherever they first leaned to drive, but since there is no will (globally) to screen drivers with a view to assessing their road-sharing skills we then continue to have the current set of problems, into the indefinite future.
The best we can do as pedestrians and as defensive drivers, is to pretend that we are INVISIBLE!
It’s not the only way to go, but it’s a start.
if we go about down a supermarket aisle, along a walkway in a busy mall, down a residential street or on a main UAE highway pretending that we are invisible, then the selfish, irresponsible and ultimately dangerous actions of others won’t have as great an impact on us.
These offending drivers are not necessarily mean, nor have death wishes etc. They are nice folks, probably upstanding contributors to society, but they have not been socialized with respect to sharing of space, and consideration of others. That socialization cannot be modified by any level of enforcement.
A physiotherapist told me a story of 2 brothers in the UAE who were both paralyzed from the neck down as a result of an illegal drag racing accident. On inquiring why they were not home one day, for a previously scheduled physio session, she was told that they guys had gone out once again, to the track, this time as passengers in the cars! The same activity that left them paralyzed a few months earlier!!
Any psychologist will tell you, that our core personality is largely and irreversibly formed by time we are ten years old. So, if someone is already off the rails at 10 years old -ie unable to share public spaces- then by the time they are old enough to get a drivers Licence, putting up a flashing light, speed bump, or signs etc won’t make a difference to ingrained behavior.
I’ve seen drivers race over speed bumps in my neighborhood, as if the bumps were mere shadows. They live in the area, know the bumps are there, and have no intention of slowing down, caring little about the damage to the cars they drive, or the momentary loss of control as the cars become airborne over the bumps.
Petite moms in little 2-door cars, pizza delivery guys on bikes, others in SUVs, all types of drivers and vehicles. The common denominator is callous impunity.
At my my kid’s school, drivers go thru the red lights at the pedestrian crossing/ raised crowsswalk with impunity. Signs, paint, raised roadways, traffic lights, crossing guards, etc all ignored.
I’m an airline pilot and have been flying for 35 years. In fact, I got my pilot’s license before I was allowed to drive a car !!
Touch wood, all my 34 years of driving has been accident free, not necessarily because I’m a great driver, but mostly because I pretend that the other drivers around don’t see me. They don’t see me because I am INVISIBLE.
Imagine if the furniture in your house was invisible, but couldn’t hurt you if you stumbled into it? The same goes for obstacles around town? How would you behave if a collision with anything that you didn’t see, couldn’t hurt you? How would it affect the way you moved around?
The bad drivers have the same mindset, but unfortunately, some of the things that get run over, are not just skateboards, paper napkins, and cigarette butts. They are people as well.
On the occasions when I go about Dubai as a pedestrian, I assume that neither driver, nor other pedestrians can see me. No exceptions.
I’ve taught my kids the same thing. They know they are Invisible. They don’t interact with any vehicle hoping that the driver will see, notice, acknowledge, coordinate, adjust, brake swerve, comprehend etc just because they are crossing the road.
My kids are taught to cross only if the car has already gone by. If it means waiting for a long time, so be it. There will always be a time when there are no more cars approaching.
They are taught to decline the offer when a Good Samaritan stops to let them thru at a pedestrian crossing. If a driver stops to allow them to cross in front of his/her car, they know to turn around, walk away from the edge of the sidewalk, and disengage from the driver. Why? It’s because that driver cannot protect you. Delivery bikes come thru between the driver and the sidewalk, or if on a multi lane road, other drivers will switch lanes and come thru the pedestrian crossing anyway.
Rather than spend too much effort on infrastructure, I suggest a campaign of INVISIBILITY. Teach the vulnerable ones among us, to consider themselves as being invisible.
That seems to work for now